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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fire on Her Tongue!

There were so many fine books of poetry released in 2011 that I really don't know where to begin.

Instead of attempting to choose my favorites, I am focusing instead on a book that became available yesterday. It's called Fire on Her Tongue, and it's an e-book anthology of contemporary women's poetry edited by Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy, two amazing poets in their own rite. is selling Fire on Her Tongue for just $7.99, a steal beyond steal. It includes poetry by Patricia Smith, Natasha Saje, Dorianne Laux, and many, many other fine female American poets.

Buy it today for hours of reading pleasure in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Slate Magazine Poetry Podcasts on iTunes

I came across this feature while searching around for food poems, one of my favorite pastimes. This one by Brenda Shaughnessy titled "Inappropriate Dreams" made me smile. Here's where all the podcasts live.

I love that Slate publishes not only poems, but audio versions of poems. Thanks, Slate!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rattle Magazine: I Thank Thee

This time of year as I spread Christmas cheer by filling stockings with high-fives for books and magazines that most float my boat, I turn to Rattle Magazine, the lovely little magazine that just keeps getting better. Today's poem by Canadian poet Julie Bruck is is no exception. Thanks to the editors of Rattle, and to Julie for waking my brain and my belly laugh this cold December morning:

Julie Bruck
Our very important neighbor’s
fused to his new Cingular headset:
Now he can talk and walk.
Blah-blah-blah goes Mr. de Broff.
This makes it hard to hear
even the packs of feral dogs
howling all night, or the cats
doing what they do in our dark
fog-bound city gardens.
The world needs its chemistry
checked, that’s for sure.
The poisoned river is high,
fast at this time of year.
Fences between houses are down,
and we all like our boundaries.
Pharmacies? Closed.
All essential services, shut.
Time to fetch my daughter
from a birthday party which
ended in 1963, but she runs late.
Sometimes, I have to pry her
from the door-jamb, carry
her to the car like a small,
warm totem pole with sneakers.
A yellow Hummer slipped
through a crack in our street
on Tuesday: not seen nor
heard from since, despite
the crowd of looky-lu’s,
still milling around out there.
Love to. But these are
strange times. I could
expire before I meet
you at the gate. Yessir.
Love to. Toothache.
from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

~ Book of Kells: Confession Tuesday - Looking Back

~ Book of Kells: Confession Tuesday - Looking Back

Beginning again with horn, confetti, and tiara sounds good to me! I am glad that man saved you--I would not want a 2012 without you in this world. Have fun planning out your next year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Book Recommendations, Part 1: Prose

2011 was a good year for many reasons, one being that my kids have reached an age that allows me to read more books, and not just poetry books.

Don't get me wrong, I love poetry books, but I do love non-fiction too, along with the occasional novel.

The non-poetry books I read with gusto and glee in 2011 include:

Mary Karr's Lit 
Could not put it down. Sightseeing and AWP-ing in DC, I would pull it out and read a few pages every free chance I got. Riveting, harrowing, extremely well written.

Jim Harrison's True North 
An epic coming-of-age tale in the great American tradition of Wallace Stegner and related he-men-folk with heart and soul. Memorable characters, expansive scenery, and lots of philosophical musings to keep you chewing.

Laura Redniss's Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fall-Out
I heard a review of this book on NPR in late 2010 and ran out and bought this; I've read it three times this year. Gorgeously luminous (literally and figuratively!). It's history; it's science; it's the heartbreaking romantic tale of two amazingly talented and productive individuals. Redniss deserves the National Book Award for this one (it's been nominated!). 

Fritjof Capra's The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance
This book is worth it just for Leonardo's drawings, but I found the text fascinating as well -- learned a whole lot about Da Vinci's working habits, projects, set-backs, obsessions, and, of course, his genius. 

Nick Flynn's Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
I've already raved about this book here -- I am so glad I had a chance to read it before it becomes a major motion picture in 2013. 

Eula Biss's Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays
Biss drew me with the first page of the first essay. These essays force the reader to think hard about racism in America, past and present. I posted a review of this book here a few month's ago. Can't recommend it highly enough. 

Joan Didion's Blue Nights
I've been a Didion devotee since 1979. Reading Didion is like visiting with someone I've known and loved since high school -- comforting, reassuring, right. This book is beyond page-turner; I read it with my eyes wide-open, forgetting to blink. "When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children." Indeed.

On My Wish List:

Eavan Boland's A Journey with Two Maps.
I was slow to warm up to Boland's work, but in the last year or so I've become a huge fan. She gets to this place in her best poems where she's almost speaking in tongues, comprehensible, but in fractured bits of image and pure emotion. Example, from her poem "Pomegranates":

If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.  
She will enter it.  As I have.
She will wake up.  She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips.  I will say nothing.

Stephen Greenblatt's Swerve: How the World Became Modern
I read an excerpt of this book in The New Yorker last summer, and I was blown away. Lucretius for the masses -- what could be better? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tra la la la End of Year Poetry Book Recommendations

Lately I have been very much involved in the great American rush to string the cranberries and popcorn (it is not easy as it sounds), bake the chocolate cookies (they must be crispy and chewy), stir the egg nog into the whiskey (goes down smooth but requires immediate one-hour high-intensity workout to offset epic caloric consumption), and all order of holiday merriment, but I have also been busy compiling lists of my favorite poetry book and lit mag reads of 2011, plus reading those of others.

While I put the final touches on my extended list of the books/mags I most fervently and heartily endorse, please turn your gaze to the fine recommendations by past and present contributors at The Kenyon Review, including yours truly.

While you are at it, have a gander at Jeannine Hall Gailey's bow-perfect list of her 2011 picks.

It's also a good time to cherish and patronize your favorite local bookstores; in Seattle that would be ... Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company, and Open Books: A Poem Emporium.

All this good reading, eating, imbibing, and supporting of local businesses makes me feel so warm and cozy! Won't you join me in spreading good cheer by spending your holiday money allocation supporting writers and buying their books locally? Artists at places like Etsy appreciate your money, too, as do places like the National Audubon Society (Seward Park here in Seattle has a wonderful store). I'm not quite ready to give my friends the gift of charitable donations, but purchasing items from environmental/do-gooder organizations, including Goodwill Industries, is a great way to help out others and keep the landfills a tad less choked.